KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Disputes over hamburgers from fast-food restaurants cost two black St. Louis residents their lives in 2008 and helped Missouri reclaim its position as the state with the nation’s highest black homicide rate.
There were 287 black homicide victims in Missouri that year, with 246 of those slayings either in St. Louis or Kansas City, according to statistics provided by the FBI.
The result is a black homicide rate of 39.90 per 100,000 black residents, far higher than Pennsylvania’s rate of 31.05 per 100,000.
Nationwide, the overall homicide rate for 2008 was 4.93 per 100,000, according to the Violence Policy Center, which issued its annual black victimization report Wednesday.
“While Missouri has the highest rate of black homicide victimization, across the nation this is a long-ignored crisis that
is devastating black teens and adults,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the VPC and co-author of the study.
Missouri has had one of the nation’s top five black homicide rates in four of the last five reports, including holding the top spot in 2008 and No. 2 position last year behind Pennsylvania, another perennial member of the list.
Statistics used in each study are from three years earlier, the most recent available at the time the reports are issued.
“Unfortunately, with homicides in general, there is a tendency to resolve disputes using the barrel of a gun,” said St. Louis Police Department spokeswoman Erica Van Ross. “Two of our homicides in 2008 stemmed from arguments over fast-food hamburgers. Two people are dead because of arguments over a burger. It’s incredibly frustrating.”
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